Right now, I’m in full existential crisis mode. I have a feeling that if you’re a senior; we’re in the same boat. If you aren’t, good for you, but right now who isn’t overwhelmed with papers, presentations and exams and doesn’t want to strangle the next person who asks you about an internship, writing a thesis or post-graduation plans? I can empathize.
Under so much stress, it’s hard to find the right mental place, and easy to think about things that are discouraging. Sometimes I’ll think about my roommate, who will be graduating in December and has already lined up a sweet job with the world’s largest consulting firm. It’s still another five months until most of us seniors graduate, and our plans might not be so solid. But even at this point, it’s depressing when I tell people my plan: attempt journalism until I can’t afford to eat anymore, at which point I move back home and start applying to graduate school.
Unfortunately, this is self-defeating in a few ways. For one, thinking about this stuff is a waste of time in itself. And while I may not have spent the last few years studying “useful” things, I know enough about economics to understand the concept of self-fulfilling expectations: if you keep thinking this way, your worst existential fear – be it homelessness, hunger or moving back in with mom and dad – is more likely to come true.
If you’re preparing to graduate with a degree in something other than business, economics, or engineering you’re probably having your doubts, as you might have when you decided to get yourself into this a few years ago. The key is to stop thinking about it and do something to justify your existence.
If you have to reflect on your time here, certainly college has been a wild experience filled with too many nights forgotten, nights better off forgetting and loss of money, pints of blood, etc. Being an undergrad means having something of a safety net – support from friends and services on campus, an ability to obtain discounts and cheap loans – and it’s worth pulling out all the stops. While it’s really easy to apply the logic that “you’re only in college once” to any sophomoric antic that you’d like to justify, it’s better to apply it to other things.
For instance, graduating members of the college press can’t be certain of a legitimate journalistic affiliation this time next year. For others, it will become harder to find ways to perform music, act and write for an audience, and doors will close for the chance to receive certain grants and scholarships. College is such that anybody can get involved in anything, but the going will be tougher once we’ve left.
Also remember the city you might be leaving behind. If you’ve spent your time here hating on Washington, you probably haven’t gotten out of Foggy Bottom enough. Before you run out of time, enjoy the nightlife, arts and shopping that the U Street, Chinatown and even Capitol Hill neighborhoods have to offer.
I’ve seen my friends who have graduated, and as far as I can tell, the only difference is that the weekday night drinking starts earlier. While finals might be miserable, the real world seems to be no picnic. As a greenhorn with a Bachelor’s, your dream job will probably be a few years down the road. Those of you heading to graduate school might find a friend’s description foreboding: “It’s the same bulls**t I’ve been dealing with for the last 16 years.”
We’ll always look upon our time here with fondness, but before reflecting, let’s enjoy what we have left. It’s important for seniors with little or no time remaining to think about everything we’re leaving behind, and not accentuate the negative. With one semester left, let’s make it count (and to those graduating now, best of luck).
-The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs and
anthropology, is a Hatchet columnist.